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Are These The Last Known Photos Of Cecil The Lion, Hunted And Killed By American Dentist Walter Palmer?

29/07/2015 09:54 BST | Updated 29/07/2015 10:59 BST

Earlier this month, Cecil the Lion, Zimbabwe's famous big cat, was hunted down and killed by American dentist Walter Palmer, sparking outrage across the globe.

On July 1, the 13-year-old lion, who was part of an Oxford University study, was lured out of Hwange National Park with bait, shot with a crossbow, and then decapitated and skinned to take home as a trophy.

Brent Stapelkamp, one of the researchers at Oxford's zoology department, and based in Hwange, says he and his team were "absolutely devastated" when they found Cecil's carcass, which had been ravaged by vultures and hyenas.

"It was always in the back of our minds that a lion like that would get shot because he is so beautiful, and he is on the boundaries of the park," he told the Telegraph. "We try and be a bit cold, and professional scientists. But we were absolutely devastated, rocked to our cores. My immediate response was anger."

Stapelkamp says he believes he took the last known photographs of Cecil in May, who is pictured lying down with another male lion Jericho standing at his side, and on his own in the park.

"I feel betrayed by hunting," he added. "I was trained and taught that hunting was good for conservation. But it is no longer the case.

"Cecil's death has a silver lining," Stapelkamp added. "He is going to change the lion conservation world, thanks to the momentum this has brought. The world getting involved in the story."

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